Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Seventy Years

faculty or in other private families at from six to seven dollars a week.

For the first four classes the duration of the course was three years. An additional half year was required for those in the class of 1875 who intended to pursue the mechanical course. This apprentice period, begun February 20, 1872, was devoted chiefly to shop work, and students who successfully completed it were admitted in regular standing the following September. The three-and-a-half year plan continued until 1893, when a four-year course was inaugurated.

Early classes, apprentices excepted, had comparatively easy hours - nine to one and two to six, although practice work began at eight on Saturdays. Later, practice work began at seven and classes at eight. Chapel exercises were held at eight-forty-five and a careful check of attendance was taken. An excuse from the office was necessary if one were to be absent. The excuse books were in vogue for many years, and the entries in them cover every known reason for absence from nervous breakdowns to deceased grandmothers.

Classes were named junior, Middle and Senior. The subjects of the junior year included algebra, geometry and trigonometry, surveying and mapping, physics, inorganic chemistry, freehand drawing, French, declamation and English composition. These subjects were studied diligently until the first of July. Then for a month all students engaged in shop, field or laboratory practice. Summer vacations were about six weeks long; a recess of a week was allowed at Thanksgiving, and another of two weeks in March.

Not only was there little time for organized social or athletic activities, but there was little inclination toward them. Teachers and parents were agreed that work was a cardinal virtue, and that if boys were allowed to fritter away the moments in relaxation, they would be lacking in appreciation and would be jeopardizing their future success. Professor Thompson saw no need for outside activities. In his inaugural


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Last Modified: Fri Jul 30 11:15:25 EDT 1999